Open concept at CLA fosters creativity
By Nick Wood
ASHWAUBENON – “Oh my gosh,” said receptionist Donna Nikodem when asked how she likes her company’s new digs in the US Venture Center building on the west end of Ashwaubenon’s Titletown District.
“It’s so bright with all the windows – I was at the other building for 21 years – it’s just wonderful,” she said. “Plus there’s a grocery store right next door. I like that it’s so centrally located.”
Nikodem is one of about 125 employees of accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP (CLA) who were on hand to welcome members of the media for an open house last Friday along with representatives of Titletown Office Partners – the real estate development partnership led by the Green Bay Packers and Commercial Horizons.
Brad Frank, CLA’s managing principal of office, said for 32 years employees were spread out on five separate floors of the old building.
“We were due for a refresh,” Frank said. “There’s a lot of inspiration and energy created by an office environment filled with natural light. It’s better for our team, which means we do a better job for our clients. Now we’ve consolidated five floors – with a refrigerator and microwave on each floor – into one central cafe. There’s lots more collaboration when you can actually see people instead of just passing them in the parking lot on your way in or out.”
In addition to the single-floor layout, all work stations and departments are surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows – many of which overlook Lambeau Field and the Titletown District – and the internal conference rooms and client meeting rooms have glass walls to let the natural light fill the office.
“Everyone gets the benefit from the light,” Frank said. “The architects call it the right to light.”
Before moving in, Frank said the building was just a blank shell.
Working with architect and design firm BDH of Minneapolis, he and Operations Director Jen Strebel, along with input from members of their team, wanted to put a decidedly local spin on the space.
Large colorful photo art adorns the walls throughout and features scenes of Door County, Wequiock Falls, the Fox River Locks in De Pere and dozens of other familiar places.
The five client-facing conference rooms are named for local streets: Military, Broadway, Riverside, Lombardi and Oneida; and the eight internal conference rooms are named after local landmarks including Voyageur, Bay Beach, Lambeau, Titletown, Fox River, City Deck, Heritage Hill and Lighthouse.
“We surveyed our team members on the conference room themes and local landmarks represented in the artwork, so a lot of people had an opportunity to contribute,” Strebel said.
Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy spoke about how pleased he is to see the Titletown area filling up with people and energy, which is the kind of atmosphere that was envisioned when Titletown was first getting developed.
“We now have more than 150 residents in Titletown between TitletownHomes and TitletownFlats, and more than 250 now work in the U.S. Venture Center, adding to the density and character of Titletown,” he said.
CLA, which is the eighth largest accounting firm in the United States, employs more than 7,500 people in 125 locations across the United States and provides a range of accounting services including taxes, auditing and consulting.
The Green Bay office focuses on small to middle-market businesses, including outsourcing accounting services to startups at the nearby Titletown Tech business incubator.
“As an industry leader, they are a great addition to the business community in Titletown,” Murphy said. “And as a resource for the portfolio of companies at TitletownTech, it’s the perfect fit to have them nearby.”
The addition of CLA brings occupancy of the US Venture Center to 80 percent, with other tenants including Breakthrough, Miron Construction and Aon.